Rampant NYC and Sparrow Film Project

New York City studio, Rampant, uses Digital Pigeon to handle submissions for their film competition

12 May, 2017

How Sparrow Film Project uses Digital Pigeon for flawless online entries

Rampant is a post-production service company based in Queens, NYC. They use Digital Pigeon for their company work, as well as for Sparrow Film Project, a competition held annually in their local area.

Rampant was founded by Sean Donnelly and Mary Ann Benedetto. They have such a diverse range of clients including short from independent projects, television commercials, and award winning television series and feature films. One of their larger clients is HBO’s Sesame Street!

But for this case study we were really interested about learning more from Sean about how his team use Digital Pigeon to create a smooth process for Sparrow Film Project.

When Sparrow Film Project met Digital Pigeon

Sparrow Film Project started in 2009 as a friendly competition for local filmmakers, both amateur and professional. Teams sign up and receive a randomly selected assignment around a central theme. They then have three weeks to make a three minute film, culminating with screenings and an awards gala at the Museum of the Moving Image. It’s the creative challenge that keeps the filmmakers coming back and attracting new competitors each year.

An online process for signups and submissions has allowed the competition to grow and spread outside their local area in recent years. Finding the right tool for managing submissions was key.


Sean Donnelly
Sean Donnelly
Founder & DOP

“The key benefit for Sparrow Film Project is having a fast, reliable system for filmmakers to submit their entries within a short time frame.”


Switching to Digital Pigeon

Rampant made the switch to Digital Pigeon when they were working on a feature film and needed to move 30-40GB per day to the editor. After struggling with file size limitations and throttling on Dropbox and Hightail, they researched other options and found Digital Pigeon offered an amount that was far more than any of the competitors could handle. According to Sean, “when the time came for the next round of the Sparrow Film Project it was an easy choice to switch over.”

Speed and reliability

Clearly for Sean and the Sparrow Film Project team, having a fast, reliable system for filmmakers was key.

One of the few hard and fast rules of the competition is that films must be completed within exactly three weeks. As many of you reading this will be aware, film makers are typically working up until the last possible second! With around 100 teams competing each year, they needed a system that could handle a high volume of film submissions all being submitted in a small window of time.

When the competition began, Dropbox was the best option available.  But the sporadic transfer speeds (especially over 1GB) would always lead to a participant underestimating their upload time and potential disqualification.

With Digital Pigeon came to market – this became no longer a problem. Even in the last few hours leading up to the submission deadline, with high volumes of traffic, the upload speeds are consistently two to three times faster than any of the other services.

Real time tracking and notifications

Another bonus, Sean told us, is being able to monitor existing upload progress. Before their method of tracking submissions was to share a folder with a predetermined team member. That way they could confirm receipt when they joined the folder, and close access at the end of competition.

With activity tracking, this was easily achievable. It means teams can submit their work right up until the final deadline (midnight, EST) because they can see exactly when the file has been uploaded or if it’s been accessed after the submission deadline.

And if for some reason there appears to be a stalled transfer (at the sender’s end) they can contact the team to check on it, which means fewer disappointments for participants who run into technical problems.

For the next competition, they’ve told us that they’re even looking at using our feedback tool as a receipt of sorts, to notify teams when their submission has been received and confirmed.

Struggling with receiving files from entrants all at once? Try us out for your next film competition!

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